Marshall’s MedLife hosts ‘Puppy Therapy’ to help raise money for a family in need


Submitted Photos

Soledad Raja’s house is in shambles. It has no floors, caving in walls and ceiling covered in moss. MedLife is raising money to help get Raja a new home.


The puppies Marshall University’s community members have spotted outside the Memorial Student Center are not just for looks, they are there to play with.

For $1, students can hold a puppy for five minutes, relieving stress while supporting a struggling family in Lima, Peru. MedLife calls this fundraiser event “Puppy Therapy.”

MedLife’s mission statement is exactly what MedLife stands for: Medicine Education Development for Low Income Families Everywhere.

“I’ve always done volunteer work at home, but I really wanted to go and do volunteer work somewhere else,” MedLife volunteer Olivia Gioviogo said. “So, being able to have the opportunity to do stuff here but knowing it can benefit somebody who doesn’t have a floor or even a roof over their head somewhere else is really awesome.”

The money being raised through MedLife’s project fund is to build a livable house for Soledad Roja and her 10-year old son Jose.

Founder and co-president of Marshall’s MedLife chapter Ana Ramirez said Raja and her son live in poverty in Villa María del Triunfo, Lima, Peru.

Ramirez moved from Peru to Huntington when she was 8 years old. Ramirez is currently a senior biology major.

Villa María del Triunfo is a low-income residential district on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, where over half the population is poor. Many residents like Soledad Roja struggle to make a regular income.

“I chose Soledad because she works so hard and I really wanted to help her,” Ramirez said. “She’s a single mom living in poverty and she goes to work from morning till the middle of the night, trying her best to let her son have a future.”

Soledad works 10-hour shifts, seven days a week doing lab inventory to provide necessities for herself and her son, as well as pay for his private school tuition. Soledad earns just enough money to make ends meets, according to MedLife’s profile on her.

“Their house is falling apart, it’s terrible,” Ramirez said. Ramirez described the house as having no floors, caving in walls and ceiling covered in moss.

“Where’s it’s been raining and we’re going to get a severe storm in Peru, El Niño,” Ramirez said. “Most houses are going to fall part pretty soon so we’re raising money through the MedLife project fund to build her a house where she can live with her son.”

MedLife has been raising money for Soledad’s new home since last spring by taking donations and hosting fundraising events such as “Puppy Therapy” and 5K’s. MedLife’s goal is to raise $6,000 by the end of the spring semester.

MedLife’s chapter meetings are open to the Marshall community. Meetings are Wednesday’s bi-weekly, at 5:30 p.m. in the Science Building room 374.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get involved whether you want to help people in other countries or you want to help people right here in your community,” Ramirez said. “We have tons of volunteering opportunities and leadership opportunities as well.”

Brianna Paxton can be contacted at [email protected].